Garda commissioner hints at changes to bail laws following Berkley review

Drew Harris says he ‘will not be found wanting’ in acting on Disclosures Tribunal

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has said he “will not be found wanting” in acting on the findings of the Disclosures Tribunal. Photo: Tom Honan/The Irish Times

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has said he “will not be found wanting” in acting on the findings of the Disclosures Tribunal. Photo: Tom Honan/The Irish Times

 

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has said he “will not be found wanting” in acting on the findings of the Disclosures Tribunal.

Mr Harris also vowed to restore confidence in An Garda Síochána, which has remained under intense public scrutiny after Mr Harris took up the post of commissioner just over two months ago.

Speaking to the media following a public meeting of Co Longford’s Joint Policing Committee on rural crime, Mr Harris told how he believed certain aspects of Mr Justice Peter Charleton’s report had been drafted specifically for his attention.

“I don’t want to refer specifically to the actions I might have to take in terms of the Charleton Report, but I would say the last few pages of the report read as if they were written directly to me and were a clear call for action and I will not be found wanting in terms of that report,” he said.

Mr Harris would not be drawn on his decision to allow disgraced garda superintendent Dave Taylor retire from the force on a full pension rather than face the rigours of a disciplinary investigation in the wake of the tribunal’s findings.

Supt Taylor had come in for heavy criticism over his role in a campaign to smear whistleblower and now fellow retired officer Sgt Maurice McCabe.

When pressed over the issue, Mr Harris said it be wrong “to talk about an individual human resource matter”.

The former PSNI deputy chief constable also promised “operational outcomes” would arise from a review he has ordered into the force’s handling of rapist Eoin Berkley after it emerged he should have been in custody for breaching bail conditions at the time he assaulted a teenage girl.

Mr Harris stopped short of confirming whether the contents of that review, which is being led by assistant commissioner Pat Leahy, would be made public, but hinted that changes in bail laws might have to be considered as part of its overall findings.

“There will be operational outcomes from that and in some ways what we will do with that is we will report to the Policing Authority and to the Justice Minister on what we have found from the examination of that case,” he said.

“At the same time I don’t really want to inform criminals or those on bail about what tactics we are going to adopt.

“It’s an approach to see how do we manage and police bail provisions and how we can we do that better going into the future.

“Let’s do the review first. Obviously its a very concerning case and that is why we undertook a review and why I have asked for that to be done quickly.

“Part of that will be what is the legislative framework we are working within and do we need more powers and alternative tactics in terms of bail. Tactics and disposals which are available in other jurisdictions, we might need to consider those and those will require changing the law.”